Saturday, 2:15 PM
Legislature votes to crack down on companies' gifts to doctors
By Kay Lazar, Globe Staff
After weeks of intense negotiations, state lawmakers announced an agreement on a sweeping proposal to curb soaring health care costs, including a contentious provision about drug companies' gifts and meals to physicians.
The compromise does not include an outright ban on drug company gifts, but requires the companies to report to the state Department of Public Health any payment or subsidy over $50 to any health care professional. And it requires that the department post that information on a public website.
It also requires the DPH to create regulations governing the giving of such gifts, and stipulates that the regulations must, at the very least, include a marketing code of conduct such as the recent one announced by the pharmaceutical industry's trade association. That voluntary code would ban most meals at restaurants and trinkets such as mugs and pens bearing the names of drug companies and products, but still allows companies to cater lunches in doctors' offices and hospitals.
The lawmakers' compromise also sets a $5,000 fine for each violation by pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers.
Massachusetts would become one of just of a couple of states to impose tough regulations on drug company gift-giving.
Lawmakers are expected to approve the compromise this evening and send it to Governor Deval Patrick this weekend.
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